Lent is one of the most important seasons in the church's calendar and due to its usage changing over 2000 years and across the different denominations of Christianity it has had a wide variety of customs associated with it. Part of the richness of the season is this huge variety of different emphases, and so long as we do not ever restrict ourselves to just any one of these it can be a hugely enriching period for us to engage with.
Originally a season of preparation and prayer for those who were to be baptised on Easter Sunday, it has always had a sense of getting ourselves prepared for the great feast of Easter. The idea of 40 days of fasting came through later Greek and Latin influences and helps us focus on a time of penance, and sometimes fasting, as part of our devotional preparation for Easter. But it is the meaning of the English word 'Lent' which always inspires me most - "Spring". Spring is the season of new growth and preparation for fruitfulness. A season for optimism and new life.
After clearing out the cupboards of the fat and sweet things, and cheering on Mr Small for another victory at the School Pancake Race on Shrove Tuesday, Lent starts on Ash Wednesday with our ashing service at Feckenham Church at 7.00pm on Valentine’s Day. So if you are not on a Date Night with a loved one, come and join us in church. Rather than giving up something for Lent, why not do something different instead. Donate to Sports Relief, leave a tin or packet for the Redditch Foodbank. Fast if you want, but I won’t be doing that. Yes, I’ve tried giving up chocolate – it doesn’t work! Various other opportunities to give or give up or learn something about this Lent season exist over the 40- days – so do consider how you can engage with this important time of year. Go on Mr Small!
Whether through these services or in other ways I trust that you will use and find Lent as a season for your own growth and spiritual enrichment and development of the church.
What is Epiphany?
Chances are, you are all sitting at home with boxes or bags of decorations to struggle up into the loft or to find the time to put the decorations away in the garage. But should we? Really, we should keep some decorations up until early February, but that’s another story. Was that a surprise revelation to hear that ? Well, that’s what the Epiphany is all about - a little four week season just after Christmas that reveals so much. And very few people know about, I sense.
Epiphany moments - a wake up call - a revelation- that’s what happened when the Three Wise Men or Kings turned up to see Jesus. Chances are, given the distances and camel speed, they arrived when Jesus was a toddler rather than just in time for Mary to change the godly nappy. But the thing is - they arrived and by doing so we remember as Christians that Jesus was revealed to all of us - for all time. What a revelation!
Another revelation - the epiphany is a traditional time to as God’s Blessing on your homes and schools. How do we do this? Well, write the following on a piece of card and put it up near your front door:
No, this is not some algebra for Mrs Bray to resolve but an important message.
CMB - is the initials of the names of the three wise men - Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar ( always a good answer to have for a pub quiz question) and they symbolise the revelation. The 20 and 18 is easy = 2018, our new year. CMB also means Christus Mansionem Benedicat - may Christ Jesus Bless this House or School.
Put the card up somewhere and see how many people ask you what it means.
A prayer - Loving God, bless our house and our school. May we be blessed with health, happiness, goodness of heart and abiding in your will. Amen